Children are affected more frequently than adults
While only about 4% of adults in Germany suffer from atopic dermatitis, the percentage of children in Germany who are affected is currently between 12 and 15%. Atopic dermatitis usually affects children and infants. In 50% of cases, initial symptoms appear during the first 12 months of the child’s life. The first sign is often a “milk crust”, which forms on an infant’s head as a whitish-yellow crust of scurf that looks like scorched milk. Even then, not every infant with a milk crust goes on to develop atopic dermatitis. This should not be mistaken for the sebaceous, yellowy infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis, or cradle cap, which is common among infants and which disappears again by itself.
How to treat children´s skin correctly
Children’s skin is thinner than adult skin. And as their sebaceous and sweat glands do not function as efficiently, this can lead to a greater likelihood of dry skin. Skin care products for use on children are subject to special requirements. They should not contain any artificial fragrances, colourants or preservatives. And urea should not be used on small children younger than 4 years of age.
People with atopic dermatitis need to apply skin care twice daily, called basic care, as an important part of therapy for the condition. This care needs to be continued even when an acute flare has subsided in order to extend the period without flares. Trying to persuade children (and their parents) to care for the skin on a daily basis is a major challenge in the basic care of atopic dermatitis. Pleasantly gentle application on the skin, rapid absorption by the skin, and no greasy film left on the skin are all good prerequisites for turning this daily application into a ritual that can be actually fun. It is important to apply cream to the areas of skin that seem “normal” as well because the skin barrier has actually also been damaged there.
Can atopic dermatitis be avoided in infants by applying cream as a prevention?
Newborn babies with at least one parent who suffers from atopic dermatitis, hay fever or another atopic condition are regarded as being especially at risk of developing atopic dermatitis. There are signs that the daily application of cream from the very beginning can prevent or at least delay the onset of eczemas in the case of children who are at particular risk of developing atopic dermatitis. Further studies are necessary in order to make a verified statement here.